Command Performance Review
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Thereís a moment in Dolph Lundgrenís Command Performance that perfectly sums up my reaction to this direct-to-DVD action flick. Canadian pop singer Melissa Smith (playing a pop singer, of course) gazes at Lundgrenís craggy-faced, leather-vested Joe the Drummer with a look that clearly says, ďI gotta get me some of that.Ē

These days, thereís no shortage of examples in movies of older men drawing the attention of impossibly hotter, much younger women, in defiance of all common sense. Usually, though, this doesnít occur until the end of the film, providing the action hero with a kind of reward for his killing all the bad guys and saving the day. Here, however, this occurs the very first time that international starlet Venus lays eyes on the 50-something opening-act drummer.

Now, as a fan of B-grade action, I can accept the former Ivan Drago as an accomplished drummer and certified ass-kicker. I can accept that he can take out two terrorists armed with AK-47s using an electric guitar and an amp turned up to 11. I can even accept that the reason Joe is free to run about the besieged concert hall to mess up the bad guysí plans is that he snuck off to the bathroom to fire up a joint. But my suspension of disbelief only goes so far.

It doesnít help that the rest of the film proceeds strictly by the numbers. Command Performance is set at a concert in Moscow, which was requested by the Russian president, so his daughters (one of whom is played by Lundgrenís own kid) could see their favorite singer. Itís not long before it kicks into full-on Die Hard mode. A group of very bad men invade the concert hall, kill a bunch of people, and take the president, his family, Venus, and the visiting U.S. Ambassador hostage. They claim to want money, but the bad guy in charge is really just still pissed about the fall of communism and the loss of his former-general father. Joe then spends a little time dithering over his dislike for guns before going into full-on John McClane mode, rescuing the hostages and cementing Venusís inexplicable desire.

Thereís no denying that Lundgren is a man of many talents. Besides writing, directing, and starring in this film (his third as a triple-threat), as well as speaking five languages and holding an advanced degree in chemical engineering, he uses this film to demonstrate his previously unseen skills as a drummer. And yet, itís never believable. The film is so basic in its approach, and the cast is so uniformly unconvincing in their portrayals, that it never really builds the momentum that even B-grade action flicks need.

Donít get me wrong, I actually like Lundgren as an action star. The guy has serious physical presence, and he obviously enjoys his work, but this really isnít the best use of his abilities. Iím looking forward to his appearance in the upcoming action geek-fest The Expendables (in which he gets to play a villain again), but the sooner Command Performance gets expended, the better.

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